Health and Fitness Travel By Ayleen Jacobs / December 18, 2017 In today’s modern society we used to carry many things in our bags and backpacks: purses, books, clothes, food, and etc. And what do we get in result? Back pain. No matter what kind of bag and how long you are carrying it – it is extremely important to do it the healthiest way to avoid back problems. Usually people do not pay attention to the weight of the stuff they carry, since most of it consists of little things. However, they all add weight and might put a huge burden on back, spine and shoulders. So if you wonder why you are bothered by a back pain at day’s end, you probably need to reconsider your way of carrying a bag or backpack. Here are some useful tips for making your bag more pain-friendly. Choose as smallest bag as possible Here is a secret: a small bag simply does not let you to carry much stuff. The bigger bag or backpack is, the greater temptation to fill it with unnecessary things. By choosing a smaller bag you do yourself a favour and take with you only stuff that you really need. Do not forget about symmetry One of the biggest mistakes that most people do by carrying bags and backpacks is to put extra weight on one side of the body. Any time when you carry your bag on one side, it makes your spine to curve and causes a back pain. Doctors recommend to give priority to rather a messenger back that is carried across the body rather than a bag with one strap. If you choose a backpack then the healthiest way to carry it is on both shoulders. Do some exercises and get vitamins If you are planning a long journey or a big hike, it is recommended to do some strengthening and stretching exercises in several weeks before, which will help the muscles of your back and shoulders to get in shape and avoid any possible injuries. It is also good to take vitamin B12 that is responsible both for your overall health and muscle growth. Another vitamin that helps your muscle system to become stronger is vitamin D. Do not carry a bag or backpack that is heavier than 10% of your body weight The weight of your bag is very important and you should be always aware of how much you carry on your shoulders. The recommended weight for a bag is only 10%, which means that a heavier burden might have a negative impact on the health of your back and shoulders. For example, if your weight is 130 pounds, your bag or backpack should be maximum 13 pounds, especially if you are planning to carry it for an extended period of time. Carry the heaviest items at the bottom of your backpack This is particularly true in relation to those who are going on a hiking trip and need to carry a heavy backpack for several days. Many researches proved that putting heavy stuff at the bottom helps to reduce the negative effect on a back, spine and shoulders. Get a backpack with thicker straps Bags and backpacks with drawstrings and thin straps is not the best choice because they used to dig into shoulders and neck by causing pain, especially if they are stuffed with heavy things. Therefore, if you care about the health of your spine, then choose bags with thicker straps that do not press on a back and shoulders too much. One of the best examples is Outdoor Research Isolation backpack with big straps that is considered to be one the best hiking bags. Move some of a weight to your hips What few people know is that in accordance with our human anatomy shoulders are not designed to carry heavy things. For this reason it is wiser and healthier to put some weight on the hips instead. In order to do this choose a backpack that is equipped with a waste or a hip strap, especially if you are going on a hiking trip that might involve a lot of walking. We highly recommend you to check Fjallraven Kajka backpacks that are appreciated by testers for their excellent support system engineered for perfect weight distribution. Use a hand for a carrying a bag While shoulders are not designed for carrying much weight, your hands are able to meet this challenge successfully. It does not mean that you should always carry your bag in your hand, but it will be good and healthy to give your back some breaks from time to time – preferably every 30 minutes. Use all compartments of your bag If you have a bag or backpack with many compartments, make sure that you use them all. The worst thing that you can do for your back and spine is to put all stuff in one area by making your bag bottom- or top-heavy. Therefore, it is better to choose backpacks with many pockets for more practical and equal weight distribution. Make sure that your posture is right While wearing your backpack make sure that you stand up straight. You might feel that it is easier to lean forward because it does not create so much pressure on your shoulders and muscles are less involved. However in reality it is just a misconception because instead you make the spine do all the work and struggle with weight.